China warns Swedish firms of tit-for-tat action after Huawei ban

·2-min read
China warned Sweden of 'negative consequences' if it did not reverse a decision banning Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network
China warned Sweden of 'negative consequences' if it did not reverse a decision banning Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network

China on Wednesday told Sweden to reverse a ban on Chinese tech firms from its 5G network, warning of "negative impacts" if it did not.

The Swedish telecoms regulator issued a ban on Tuesday that would require carriers to remove existing Huawei and ZTE equipment by 2025, citing national security concerns.

Chinese telecoms companies have faced bans and heightened scrutiny in recent months over fears Beijing could use their overseas deals to spy on foreign citizens.

That has provoked a furious response from Beijing, which denies the allegations and says trumped-up security concerns are being used against its successful tech firms to hem them in for commercial reasons.

China's foreign ministry said it was "strongly dissatisfied" with Sweden's decision, accusing the Swedish government of "blatantly suppressing Chinese telecom companies and politicising normal economic cooperation."

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged Sweden to "correct its wrong decision" to avoid a "negative impact on China-Sweden economic and trade cooperation, and on the operations of Swedish companies in China."

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that the decision had not targeted China.

"The objective of the legislation is to ensure security here in Sweden... but we have never directed it at any country," he told the Swedish news agency TT.

"It's the authorities who assess what is possible and not possible. And we obviously trust their assessment."

Sweden's decision comes amid pressure from the United States on allies to cut Huawei from their internet infrastructure.

Britain banned mobile providers from using Huawei equipment in new 5G networks in July, while France has placed heavy restrictions on use of equipment from Huawei.

The ban has raised fears that China could retaliate against Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson, which has 5G contracts with all three major Chinese telecoms operators.

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